This week is Congress’ last chance to stop Medicare payment cuts to doctors and preserve seniors’ access to health care. If Congress fails to act, the American Medical Association (AMA) fears that Medicare patients will lose access to needed health care as doctors are forced to change the way they practice medicine.

Physicians want to care for senior patients, but the economic reality of harsh cuts leaves them with few options. Nearly half of the nation’s physicians face total cuts in January of 6 to 20 percent because of the combined effect of various cuts to Medicare. These cuts will force physicians to make difficult practice decisions, and many say they will have to limit the number of seniors in their practice.

The vast majority of Americans share our concern. An AMA poll found that when told about the cuts, 86 percent of Americans, and 93 percent of baby boomers, are concerned they will harm seniors’ access to health care.  This concern reflects baby boomers’ worry for their parents who currently rely on Medicare, and for their own future as they age into eligibility. 

America’s patients have moved beyond concern and have shown their commitment to stop the cuts. Over the past year, the AMA’s Patient Action Network generated nearly one million patient contacts to federal legislators asking them to stop the cuts and preserve access to care.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that something must be done so doctors can continue to care for Medicare patients. Eighty senators and 265 representatives support passage of legislation to avert the cuts and provide positive updates to reflect increases in medical practice costs.

We will not rest until Congress goes beyond their recognition of this issue and acts to stop the cuts. Congress must fulfill their obligation to America’s patients and preserve their access to care under Medicare. The time to act is now.